On Monday, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) announced this year’s first Japanese encephalitis case confirmed in an over 50-year-old male who resides in Pingtung County.

Japanese encephalitis geography/CDC
Japanese encephalitis geography/CDC

On May 14, 2018, the case began to develop symptoms, including lethargy, headache and fever. Subsequently, he sought medical attention at a hospital. On May 17, when his symptoms persisted and he began to develop personality change, he was transferred to another hospital for further treatment and reported to the competent health authority as a suspected case. On May 21, infection with Japanese encephalitis was confirmed in the case. As of now, the case is still hospitalized for treatment.

According to the epidemiological investigation, the case’s vaccination history is unknown and the case had not recently traveled. He works in agriculture and animal husbandry. The case’s primary areas of daily activities include places around his residence and workplace. There is a pigpen around his workplace. Hence, it is determined the case could have acquired his infection around his workplace.

According to Taiwan CDC’s surveillance data, transmission of Japanese encephalitis in Taiwan occurs annually between May and October and it usually peaks between June and July. Thus far this year, as May 21, 2018, a total of 1 Japanese encephalitis case has been confirmed in Taiwan. During 2013 and 2017, the number of Japanese encephalitis cases confirmed respectively was 16, 18, 30, 23 and 25.

As vaccination is the most effective way to prevent Japanese encephalitis, people who live near or work in close proximity to pig farms or rice paddy fields that increase their risk of Japanese encephalitis infection are recommended to visit one of the hospitals under the Ministry of Health and Welfare for vaccination. In addition, Taiwan CDC also urges parents and caretakers of children who aged 15 months and above and have not received the vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible at their local health center or contracted healthcare facilities to prevent infection and severe complications.